Pirelli, the official tyre supplier of Formula 1, has announced its tyre selections for the last two races of the 2023 season, in Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi. The Italian company has chosen the softest possible compounds from its range, the C3, C4 and C5, for both events.
The Las Vegas Grand Prix, scheduled for October 8, will be the first F1 race in the city since 1982, but on a completely different circuit. The new track, which runs along the famous Strip, is a 5.5 km street circuit with 19 corners and two long straights. The teams have no real data or experience on this layout, and will have to rely on simulations and practice sessions to find the optimal setup.
Another challenge will be the temperatures, as all sessions will take place after sunset, in contrast to the usual desert heat. Pirelli expects the track to be cold and slippery, and has decided to bring the three softest compounds in its pool to provide more grip and warm-up.
Pirelli’s head of F1 and car racing, Mario Isola, said: “Las Vegas is a step into the unknown, for everyone I think. Las Vegas will be cold, it’s a street circuit. That’s why we worked with the teams and asked them in advance for simulations to try to understand how much energy the layout of the track puts on the tyres. We got information from the companies that make the asphalt to understand how the asphalt works. But there are still a lot of question marks at Las Vegas.”
“We obviously can’t change the weather, we can’t raise the temperature. It could be a challenge to keep the temperature in the tyre. So we decided to promote grip by using the three softest compounds in the pool. I can imagine a lot of track evolution and little grip. So the teams will complain! That’s fine. We will also deal with this situation. But it’s an unknown leap of faith. A fast track, long straights, high speed and all conditions that are difficult to manage.”
Abu Dhabi: a familiar venue with a twist
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, on November 26, will be the season finale and the last race for Pirelli as the sole tyre supplier of F1, before Michelin takes over in 2024. The Yas Marina Circuit, which has hosted the race since 2009, is a well-known venue for the teams and drivers, but it has undergone some changes for this year.
The track has been modified to create more overtaking opportunities and improve the racing spectacle. The most significant changes are the removal of the chicane at Turn 5, the widening of the hairpin at Turn 7, and the elimination of the tight sequence of corners from Turn 11 to Turn 14, replaced by a single banked curve.
Pirelli has also opted for the softest tyres for this race, as it did in 2020, when the C3, C4 and C5 were used. The tyre strategy played a key role in that race, as Max Verstappen won from pole position with a one-stop strategy, while Lewis Hamilton, who started third, had to pit twice and finished second.
Isola said: “Abu Dhabi is a familiar venue for us, but with some changes that will make it more interesting. The track has been modified to create more overtaking opportunities and improve the show. We have seen in the past that this circuit can be quite demanding on the tyres, especially on the rear axle, due to the traction and braking zones. The softest tyres should offer more performance and degradation, which could open up different strategic options.”
Pirelli’s tyre choices for 2023
Pirelli has six different dry tyres in its range, from the C0 (the hardest) to the C5 (the softest). Each weekend, it selects three of them, which are then labelled as Hard, Medium and Soft. The drivers have to use at least two different compounds during the race, unless it is declared wet.
Here is the overview of Pirelli’s tyre choices for the 2023 season: